buying fabric online

I am often asked where I buy fabric from and I’ve been meaning to put a quick post together listing some of my favourite stores. So here it is!

Just a note to accompany the list: I mostly buy quilting cottons so this list reflects that. I have absolutely no idea where to buy knit fabrics online from Australian stores. I have my eye on a couple of US sources for knits – in particular, Girl Charlee – but their shipping is pricey. I went to order a bunch of knit fabric a while back and when I got to the checkout, the shipping cost more than the fabric.   so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

I’ve bought from some of the stores on this list a few times, others only once or twice. But in all cases, I’ve been happy with the transactions.

Before the list, I have a few tips.

Local or international?

I really like to shop local, but the price difference between buying from an Australian seller and buying from the US is huge. It can cost as much as twice the per yard price to buy a meter of fabric from an Australian store. Of course, you only get a 91.4cm length when you buy a yard, but it’s still a huge difference.

Buy up big when ordering from overseas

I only buy from the US when I want more than a couple of meters. Sometimes I see something I want in a US store but I generally try to bulk out my order with other fabric. Some online fabric stores tell you how many meters or yards you can fit in a standard shipping envelope or package and I use those guides to work out how much I can fit in the package. See, for example, this chart from one of my favourite online stores, Jaq’s Fabrics. The shipping charge is estimated to be the same for 2.5 yards or 9 yards. So really, you’d be *crazy* not to buy 9 yards. (Clearly I have lots of justifications for excessive fabric buying up my sleeve!)

Buying minky or other bulky fabric

If you’re buying something bulky, buy local. The bulky stuff is heavy and… well… bulky. Don’t fill up your precious shipping space with this stuff.

Online or in the flesh?

I much prefer to buy fabric online. I think I might be in the minority. I find that I get overwhelmed in fabric stores and I end up buying stuff that I really don’t have a plan for. (Look, if I’m being completely honest, I should admit I do that online too.) But I like those ‘design wall’ features on fabric sites that let you put fabrics together to see what works. I always feel really rushed in fabric stores too so I just end up grabbing at stuff. My online fabric purchases are generally much more considered.

The list: places I’ve bought from and recommend: US

Fabric.com

Pros:

  • Huge range
  • Frequent sales on quilting cottons
  • Stocks all the big designers
  • Often has stock of popular ranges that have sold out elsewhere
  • You can order swatches (I never have)
  • They have a design wall where you can put a bunch of fabrics to see them side by side

Cons:

  • Call me picky, but I do like my fabric to be carefully folded and that’s not something you get here
  • I really like the idea of supporting small businesses and this is kind of the fabric store version of a department store – it’s big business
  • I’m a fan of seeing sale information in my inbox, but these guys send pretty frequent emails and I could do with a few less
  • Sometimes the range can be a bit overwhelming and I can’t decide what I want… So I buy nothing – or, more likely, I buy everything

Jaq’s Fabrics

This was one of the first places I bough fabric from when I started sewing. I originally bought in the Jaq’s Fabrics Etsy store but there is a separate website, too. When I want to order fabric from the US I generally check to see if I can get it here first.

Pros:

  • Fabric is carefully cut and always pretty well straight
  • Fabric is always neatly folded and nicely packed
  • Emails for new ranges and sales but not an overwhelming number
  • I just feel better about buying from a small business

Cons:

  • Smaller range – I can’t always get what I want here

The list: places I’ve bought from and recommend: Australia

Addicted to Fabric

Addicted to Fabric is a fantastic Canberra fabric store that sells some of their range online. I have only bought from the store, not online, but if they had their whole range online I would definitely be a frequent shopper. If you’re after a particular fabric I think it would be worth giving them a call.

Fat Quarter Sisters

You can never have too many fat quarters, and they’re so cheap! (I realise they’re not actually cheap when you consider the cost per meter… But they’re like $5. Who can resist?) A while back, I was tempted by some very cheap, very cute fat quarters from the Facebook-based store. I bought one or two, which actually turned out to be 17 when the invoice came… Oops! This store is also on Etsy.

Pros:

  • Fast invoicing
  • Fast shipping
  • Neat cuts
  • Nice (but small) range
  • Small business, Australian

Cons:

  • Fat quarters only

Fabric Pixie

Pros:

  • Good customer service – I needed fabric in a hurry and they got it to me in under two days
  • They have stock of some ranges that are getting to be hard to get
  • Very neat cuts
  • They currently have some good sale prices on some fabrics
  • Small business, Australian, and (for me) local

Cons:

  • Limited range

Blog every day in June 7/30

2 responses on “buying fabric online

    1. kate Post author

      I love the idea of designing my own fabric so I think I will give Spoonflower a go one of these days. I’m a frequent Kelani browser too but have never bought there. I am looking for a lampshade and I’ve been tossing up between getting one made from Kelani and doing a class to make one. I didn’t know about Tessuti – thanks for the tip!

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